Sakamoto’s ‘Empty Room’ Performances Set for June 1-2

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Michael Sakamoto, left, and Waewdao Sirisook are among the international cast of dancers featured in “The Empty Room.” (Cedar Bough Saeji)

Highways Performance Space will present “The Empty Room,” a diverse program of international performances led by butoh dance theater artist Michael Sakamoto, with renowned artists from Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, and the U.S., on Friday and Saturday, June 1-2. Shows begin both dates at 8:30 p.m.

Collaborating performers include hip-hop choreographer-dancer Rennie Harris, new music composer and electronic percussionist Amy Knoles (California EAR Unit), Japanese performers Mao Arata and Tetsuro Koyano (Pappa Tarahumara), Thai dancer Waewdao Sirisook (Lan Sattha Thai  Dance), Cambodian dancer Chey Chankethya (Amrita Performing Arts), and Vietnamese American dancer Nguyen Nguyen (Los Angeles Movement Arts), with additional music by Japanese musicians Reiko Imanishi and Shinichi Isohata (Resonance Beauty music duo).

Named after a 13th-century Zen koan that calls for letting go of distractions, attachment, and ego, “The Empty Room” is a dance and music journey into consciousness in contemporary society, addressing themes of desire, identity, self-awareness, the environment, and the hope of democracy.

Sakamoto joins forces with a team of international collaborators to envision a sustainable future that starts by inspiring social consciousness within the individual self. Each segment of “The Empty Room” is a 20-30 minute work that combines butoh with other dance and music forms, including hip-hop, traditional Thai, classical Cambodian, Balinese mask, postmodern dance, new music mixology, and koto/guitar improvisation. Inspired by the butoh concept of the “body in crisis,” the performances address a wide range of social and global crises, including environmental devastation, urban sustainability, and the search for meaning in a postindustrial, consumer landscape. This project’s collaborations without a single author are also an expression of transformation through multicultural perspectives and a call for global unity.

Highways Performance Space is located at 1651 18th St. in Santa Monica. Tickets are $20 ($15 students/groups). For reservations, call (310) 315-1459 or go to www.highwaysperformance.org.

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